INFORMS Annual Conference  

INFORMS Annual Meeting 2012, Phoenix, AZ, October 14-17

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doing good with good OR

by Laura Albert on October 15th, 2012

I had the pleasure of serving on the Doing Good with Good OR (DGWGOR) committee that judged the student paper competition on putting OR models and analysis into practice. The sessions occurred on Sunday (SB08 and SC08). The finalists are:

  • The Effect of Budgetary Restrictions on Breast Cancer Diagnostic Decisions by Mehmet Ayvaci, Oguzhan Alagoz, and Elizabeth Burnside
  • Dynamic Monitoring of Chronic Disease by Jonathan Helm and Gregg Schell
  • Optimal Distribution of Medical Backpacks and Health Surveillance Assistants in Malawi by Amber Kunkel, Elizabeth van Itallie, and Duo Wu
  • Resource-based Patient Prioritization in Mass-casualty Incidents by Alex Mills, Nilay Argon, and Serhan Ziya
  • Improving Patient Access to Surgical Care at the Juravinski Hospital Through Informed Decision Making by Daphne Sniekers
  • Using Simulation Methods to Guide Decision Making of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services by Russell Harpring

The papers represent application areas from healthcare to social services to humanitarian work.

I’d like to briefly advertise the opportunities available in healthcare OR. The sheer number of finalists that published in the health care application area is evidence of how much healthcare OR research is being performed these days… and it’s growing. The papers, however, varied from screening breast cancer at the patient level, monitoring disease (e.g., glaucoma) progress at the patient level, and clinical improvements by improving how surgeries are scheduled in operating room. The opportunities in healthcare are varied and numerous.

If healthcare isn’t your thing, there are plenty of opportunities to do good with good OR in other areas.  Humanitarian projects, for example, are often not able to fund operations research projects, and as a result, fewer people study humanitarian applications. But OR can make more of an impact in these  emerging areas.

All of the projects were put into practice or have a path to be used either in policy or to obtain funding for supporting OR in low-resource settings. All of the presentations were excellent. It was clear that all of the students learned about “doing good” as much as they learned about “good OR” — they were terrific at answering questions about learning about the messiness of real-world applications and the excitement about getting “buy in.”

Kudos again to the students who completed these projects. I hope to see excellent student projects next year.



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